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Directories (People) at the Boston Public Library: Home

Directories of individuals

This guide is intended to highlight the historical personal name directories such as city directories and telephone books, particularly ones that relate to Boston, Massachusetts and New England.

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About Directories

The Random House Dictionary (2nd edition) defines a directory as "A book containing an alphabetical index of the names and addresses of persons in a city, district, organization, etc., or of a particular category of people." The Boston Public Library’s venerable history is reflected in the range and extent of its directory collections. Since its founding the Boston Public Library has collected directories. They have accrued to the library from all subject areas that we have collected, with added value accrued from their retention. The types of directories in the library’s collection range from telephone books and city directories to the Social Register and membership, alumni, and business directories.

This research guide attempts to bring together the more commonly used resources for directory research.